Psychiatric disorders and repeat incarcerations: The revolving prison door

Jacques Baillargeon, Ingrid A. Binswanger, Joseph V. Penn, Brie A. Williams, Owen J. Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

309 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: A number of legal, social, and political factors over the past 40 years have led to the current epidemic of psychiatric disorders in the U.S. prison system. Although numerous investigations have reported substantially elevated rates of psychiatric disorders among prison inmates compared with the general population, it is unclear whether mental illness is a risk factor for multiple episodes of incarceration. The authors examined this association in a retrospective cohort study of the nation's largest state prison system. Method: The study population included 79,211 inmates who began serving a sentence between September 1, 2006, and August 31, 2007. Data on psychiatric disorders, demographic characteristics, and history of incarceration for the preceding 6-year period were obtained from statewide medical information systems and analyzed. Results: Inmates with major psychiatric disorders (major depressive disorder, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, and nonschizophrenic psychotic disorders) had substantially increased risks of multiple incarcerations over the 6-year study period. The greatest increase in risk was observed among inmates with bipolar disorders, who were 3.3 times more likely to have had four or more previous incarcerations compared with inmates who had no major psychiatric disorder. Conclusions: Prison inmates with major psychiatric disorders are more likely than those without to have had previous incarcerations. The authors recommend expanding interventions to reduce recidivism among mentally ill inmates. They discuss the potential benefits of continuity of care reentry programs to help mentally ill inmates connect with community-based mental health programs at the time of their release, as well as a greater role for mental health courts and other diversion strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-109
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Volume166
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2009

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Prisons
Psychiatry
Mentally Ill Persons
Bipolar Disorder
Mental Health
Continuity of Patient Care
Major Depressive Disorder
Politics
Information Systems
Psychotic Disorders
Population
Schizophrenia
Cohort Studies
Retrospective Studies
Demography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

Psychiatric disorders and repeat incarcerations : The revolving prison door. / Baillargeon, Jacques; Binswanger, Ingrid A.; Penn, Joseph V.; Williams, Brie A.; Murray, Owen J.

In: American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 166, No. 1, 01.2009, p. 103-109.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Baillargeon, Jacques ; Binswanger, Ingrid A. ; Penn, Joseph V. ; Williams, Brie A. ; Murray, Owen J. / Psychiatric disorders and repeat incarcerations : The revolving prison door. In: American Journal of Psychiatry. 2009 ; Vol. 166, No. 1. pp. 103-109.
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